Daily Care and Grooming

Handling
For small dogs, place one hand under the dog to support its chest and use the other forearm or hand to support its hind legs. For larger dogs, lift the dog from the underside. Place one hand and forearm supporting the chest and the other hand and forearm supporting the hindquarters.

Please note: Never lift or pull on a dog from its tail, legs or the back of the neck.

Waste Management
The cleanest, safest way for dogs to do their waste elimination activities is outdoors. This may not be achievable when they are young pups, but housetraining is well worth the effort, even for toy breeds and little dogs. You can avoid a lifetime of doggie paddies or a doggie litterbox by starting your housetraining right away. The key is to take your dog out frequently while it is adjusting to your home and routine. You’ll want to designate particular areas in your yard or nearby your door for your dog to do its duty. As the dog becomes familiar with this space and scent, it will get used to going to that spot to do its business every time.

If you have a puppy, you initially may need to take it outdoors every hour and immediately after feeding. Over time, you can add a little more time between each outdoor visit to teach your pup how to hold it. Your puppy should be able to reduce outdoor visits to between five to eight times a day within the first few weeks. Depending on the breed, your puppy may not be physically able to hold it longer than this for up to eight to 12 months. The rule of thumb is to assume a puppy can hold its water for as many hours as is its age in months. For example, when your puppy is three months old, it should be able to go up to about three hours before it needs another chance to go outdoors. Ultimately, dogs reach the point where they manage their needs with no more than three outdoor times a day. Be sure that you housetrain your dog using your daily care routine for feeding, sleeping and walking, too, so that your dog gets into a normal cycle.

When you first begin training your puppy, you’ll need to go outside with it every time and clean up each time it is needed. Once you come back inside the house, give your dog a little time to roam around as a reward for good performance. You’re not likely to have an accident at this point, either. If you have a yard, in time you can let your dog out alone and simply go out to clean up once a day. However, don’t make your dog wait long or beg to be allowed back in the house. Keep your dog on your radar when it is out of the house alone.

Many municipalities have “pooper scooper” laws. When you are on public grounds or someone else’s private property, you are responsible for cleaning up your dog’s feces. So be prepared — carry plastic bags with you at all times. Some leashes have built-in containers for convenient access to bags.

Even when you’ve trained your dog to go in a familiar spot, it will sniff around to find just the right place before doing its duty. A dog’s sense of smell is powerful and this activity is very important to your dog. So don’t rush it; give your dog time to a find a comfortable place for elimination every time it goes out.

Please note: Never put your dog’s nose in its waste or scold it for having an accident. In most cases, this is caused by physical limitations, a delay that extends the time too long or some unexpected excitement. Use positive reinforcement to reward the behaviors you want instead of punishing the bad behaviors you are trying to train your dog not to do.

Grooming
They dig and lick, sniff and chew. They shed hair and get matted coats. They may be exposed to fleas and ticks. All of these are reasons why it is important for you to make grooming part of your daily dog care routine. Not every grooming activity needs to be done daily, but you will want to accustom your dog to some daily grooming efforts. Start grooming practices from the first day you bring your dog home. Begin with short grooming periods, no more than 10 minutes, until your dog becomes familiar with your handling and grooming activities. Increase the time slowly as your dog becomes more comfortable until you can take the time you need to complete any grooming activities.

Four basic activities make up your dog’s grooming needs: brushing, bathing, nail clipping and tooth brushing.

Brushing. Brushing your dog removes dirt from the coat, helps eliminate tangles and keeps skin healthy. It also spreads the natural oils evenly for a shiny and healthy coat. Brushing provides you with an opportunity to check your dog for fleas and ticks, too. Short-coated dogs may only need brushing about once a week. Dogs with dense coats or long hair will need more frequent brushing, possibly even daily. When brushing your dog, start at the head and work methodically down toward the tail. You may need two brushes for dense or long-coated dogs — a slicker brush to remove the tangles and a bristle brush to remove dead hair. Don’t forget to brush the tail on large-coated breeds. You may even need to do some trimming on long-haired dogs.

Bathing. How frequently you need to bath your dog depends on its activity level, size and lifestyle. But the rule of thumb is simple to remember: when they are dirty, give them a bath or take them to the groomer for bathing. Whether you are washing your dog indoors or outdoors, the process is the same:

First, brush your dog to get rid of any dirt and surface residue. Next, place your dog on a nonskid surface in a tub. Using lukewarm water, hose your dog down or pour water from a container over your dog until it is thoroughly wet. Next, massage shampoo into the coat everywhere, working gently from the head to the tail. Be careful not to get the shampoo into your dog’s eyes, ears or mouth. If you’re having a problem getting a rambunctious puppy to stay still, place a toy in the water to focus the dog’s attention in one direction while you shampoo. Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly. Dry your dog with a large towel. You can use a blow dryer on your dog, but be sure it doesn’t heat up. With long haired and toy breeds, many owners find it easier to have a groomer bathe their dogs to cut and shape the coat properly. Finally, using a wet cotton ball, clean out your dog’s ears.

Nail Clipping. Before you clip your dog’s nails, you’ll need to buy a nail clipper (preferably a guillotine type).It is recommended that you have the vet or a groomer show you how to clip your dog’s nails. Dog’s have a vein toward the base of the nail you need to avoid to prevent pain and bleeding. If you are uncomfortable about clipping your dog’s nails, then plan on having the vet or groomer do it for you.

Many dogs freak out when they are approached for nail clipping. This usually occurs because owners rarely touch their feet. To help prevent this problem, start touching your dog’s legs, feet and toes from the beginning of your lives together. If this form of touching is done, then it will be easier to keep your pet calm for nail clipping. Some people also find that it’s easier to approach their dog for nail clipping when the dog is tired or sleeping.

To clip the nails, hold one paw in your nondominant hand and spread the toes out to inspect and clean between them. Then use your clippers to cut off the tip of each nail at a slight angle. You want to trim up to the point where the nail begins its natural curve. Be sure not to go as far as the quick, which is where the vein resides. After you’ve cut the nails off of one paw, use an emery board to smooth over any rough edges.

Tooth Brushing. Healthy teeth are key to a dog’s overall health, particularly since chewing is a behavior that helps your dog engage with the world. Chewing provides an important form of play and mental stimulation as well as a means for ingesting food. Today, veterinarians advise that brushing your dog’s teeth should be part of your regular grooming practices. You should clean your dog’s teeth at least every other day using an ordinary toothbrush. As with humans, this prevents plaque build-up and keeps the gums and jaw healthy. It also can help prevent bad breath.